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Making your metals matter: Top Tips for recycling metals at home

Most of us are familiar with recycling their empty food and drinks cans, but may be less sure about what, or how, other metal packaging items can be recycled.

  • Don’t forget that all metal packaging can be recycled! So as well as food and drinks cans, items like sweet tins, cake tins, foil trays, aluminium wrapping foil and pet food tins can all be put in your recycling bin.
  • And it’s not just items used in the kitchen that are recyclable! Aerosols used for deodorants, shaving foam and hair spray can also be included alongside your metal food and drink containers.

Recycling aerosols

  • Ensure that your aerosol is completely used up before you put it in the recycling bin.
  • Do not pierce, crush or flatten aerosols before recycling.
  • Detach any loose or easily removable parts, such as the plastic lid, and dispose of them with the rest of your rubbish. Don't worry about removing the plastic nozzle - this will be removed during the recycling process.

Recycling foil trays and household foil

  • Clean aluminium foil can also be recycled, such as wrapping foil, take-away trays, pie and quiche cases and oven-ready meal trays.
  • Please wipe or rinse food residue off take away and ready meal trays: There’s no need to run the tap, just a quick swill in the bowl at the end of the washing up is usually sufficient.
  • However, not all products that appear to be aluminium foil are recyclable. For example, some crisp packets can look like aluminium foil, but they are actually made from metallised plastic and cannot be recycled.
  • To check if a foil container is aluminium, put it through a ‘scrunch’ test. Simply scrunch the item in your fist, then release your grip. If the foil has stayed scrunched, then it is aluminium, and can be recycled. If it pops out into its original form, it is not aluminium and should be put in with your rubbish, not in with your recycling.

Recycling non-packaging metal items

  • All steel and aluminium can be recycled but not all can be collected at the kerbside. You can take electrical items, like irons, or bulky items like bicycles and pans, paint cans and nuts and bolts to your household waste and recycling centre. For details of your recycling centres call 0300 123 0900.

Metal packaging recycling: Fast facts

Food and drink cans

  • The average household uses 600 food cans and 380 drinks cans each year – each one is 100% recyclable, over and over again into any type of metal product: from a paper clip to a car engine component, an iron to a washing machine – or another food or drinks can!


  • 580 million aerosols are used in the UK every year.
  • Over half are used in ‘personal care’ products, e.g. deodorant, body sprays, hair and shaving products.
  • The average household uses 27 aerosols each year. That’s 10 per person per year.

Foil trays

  • An estimated 16,000 tonnes of foil trays are used each year.
  • The average household uses 182 foil trays each year

Household Foil

  • Average UK foil consumption per household is 12 metres per month
  • Every year 57 million packs of household foil are bought in the UK
  • Britain uses over 425,000 miles of household foil every year - that'll take you around the world 17 times!
  • Annually, UK consumers buy enough foil to wrap over 29 million chickens

Aluminium and steel recycling

  • Recycling a tonne of steel saves 1.5 tonnes of iron ore and reduces CO2 emissions by 80%, compared to making the metal from raw materials.
  • Recycling a tonne of aluminium saves 9 tonnes of C02 emissions and 4 tonnes of bauxite – the raw material from which aluminium is made.
  • Aluminium and steel can be endlessly recycled, without losing quality. It can take as little as six weeks for a drink can to be recycled, and back on the supermarket shelf as another can.

Saving energy, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and natural resources

  • Recycling a tonne of steel saves 1.5 tonnes of iron ore and reduces CO2 emissions by 80%.
  • Recycling a tonne of aluminium saves 9 tonnes of C02 emissions and 4 tonnes of bauxite – the raw material from which aluminium is made.
  • Recycling cans saves up to 95% of the energy it takes to make both aluminium and steel from raw materials.
  • Making aluminium cans from recycled metal is 20 times more energy efficient than using 'primary' metal.
  • Recycling seven cans saves enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 26 hours.
  • Each household uses approximately 600 food tins 380 drink cans per year. Recycling one can saves enough energy to power a computer for one hour or power a television for 3 hours.

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